A Very Happy Meal at Indie Burger

June 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

Satisfying My Burger Tooth


In a fast-food world, Indie Burger is a breath of farm-fresh air. I have a rather serious burger tooth, and my favorite type of burger is the thin, griddled variety that doesn’t require me to unhinge my jaw to take a bite, adjoined by an unruly mound of thin french fries. Indie Burger begs the inevitable comparison to other similar concepts such as Epic Burger and M Burger, both of which I haunt like a ghost, so I was eager to check another burger place off my list. Little did I know how serious Indie Burger is about local and organic sourcing, and how ridiculously tasty their food is.

Plenty of fast casual restaurants talk the talk about organic and local sourcing, but this is one place that walks the walk as well. Not only are the ingredients top-tier, but the food is as deliciously finger-licking as the most guilt-inducing fast-food restaurant, with the added bonus of not making you hate yourself once you’re done. Upon dining here, I got to chat a little bit with the owner, Cyrus Rab, and learned more about the concept and ideology. Turns out, the place was inspired by Rab’s young son Jonah.

Due to his egg and nut allergies, he is unable to dine at most fast casual restaurants, as they often use egg as filler, not to mention the use of low-quality ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives. Here’s an example that will keep you up at night: a McNugget has more than 30 ingredients and is more than half corn. So Indie Burger was born as a haven for allergy-restricted eaters as well as those just looking for healthier alternatives to the chemical-laden laboratory-esque restaurants. While maintaining affordable prices and a sleek fast-food business model, Indie Burger strictly adheres to the highest quality products, and it shows in every bite and sip.

The restaurant uses certified organic grass-fed beef from Black Wing Meats in Antioch, Illinois, for its burgers, along with organic farm-reared chicken, milk, ice cream, and juices. Most vegetables and sodas are certified organic as well, the latter sweetened with cane sugar or agave nectar. Baked items, such as buns, are specially baked for Indie Burger at local organic Biondillo Bakery. That’s a lot of organic. In some cases, when restaurants bandy the word “organic” around, it starts to lose its luster and the food falls short of the high expectations, but not here. The burgers are some of the best quick service versions I’ve had, and I’ve had an embarrassing amount.

Patties are loosely hand-formed, garnering crispy edges when cooked on the griddle, imbued with a rich, innately beefy flavor. The signature Indie Burger is a 1/3-pound patty topped with grilled onions, Swiss cheese, and Indie sauce, which is a vibrant “secret” sauce that won’t make you feel like you’re eating a science experiment. Fries and onion rings are cooked in rice bran oil, providing a healthier but no less ravenous alternative to the typical grease bombs, somewhat negated by the fact that you’re bound to eat an entire plate. The onion rings are particularly revelatory, heaped on a plate like a pile of hula hoops, encased in a thin shell as crisp as deep-fried stained glass. I didn’t partake in the children’s menu, but it’s worth noting that Indie Burger has a distinguished one, featuring an organic grass-fed burger, an organic hot dog, and a grilled cheese sandwich made with Wisconsin cheese. There’s even organic lollipops! I want a lollipop. Now that’s a happy meal worth smiling about.

Indie Burger

1034 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657

(773) 857-7777 and http://www.indieburger.com/index.php